Maternity and newborn photography are some of the most intimate and emotive styles for a professional photographer to pursue and prints from this type of work must match high client expectations.
Here, Elli Cassidy, a FUJIFILM X-Photographer and leading specialist in the maternity and newborn field, gives her top tips for other professionals for getting the very best printed products for their clients.
1. Capture the connection
For album or wall display prints, it is essential that you capture the special family connection in the portrait. This could be between the parents and the baby in the picture, telling the story of the relationship between them. I like to focus on the expressions on the parents’ faces and bring this to life for a memorable portrait.
Secondly, portraits must evoke a bond with the person viewing it, particularly when it comes to the shots of the babies alone. There are subtle details to focus on with babies compared with adult subjects, such as delicate, fine eyelashes and eyebrows and relatively soft, round features. Clients will appreciate a portrait capturing these elements and will have an emotional connection with the final print.
To achieve this, on every session without fail I use my FUJIFILM XF80mmR LM OIS WR Macro lens. It beautifully captures all of those fine details, like eyelashes, lips and even little baby bubbles being blown. When it comes to printing, the background separation is possible with the lens which draws out the key focal point of the portrait and stands out when printed. With it I can bring to life the photo that my customers will enjoy every time they see it.
This portrait is a really special example of where you can appreciate these lovely twins individual and shared features, bringing attention to their soft embrace and their unique sibling connection. This will be a photo that my client and their family can cherish for years to come.
2 . Consider use of light and shadow
Another way to accentuate features and create a stunning printed newborn or maternity photo is with the use of light and shadow.
In this portrait, I have used light and shadow to bring out the subjects and draw focus to their family connection. Though you cannot see dad in his entirety, the baby in his hands being drawn out of the shadowy background draws the eyes to this special moment.
Babies tend not to cast very stark shadows with their soft features, so I don’t use particularly harsh or bright lighting in the studio – just enough to bring the focus to the features I want to lift out. When I am taking the shot, I always have the end product at the back of my mind and ensure the light enhances the portrait ready to go to editing later.
3. Discuss the purpose
As part of consultations ahead of any shoot, you need to be able to understand from your client what they would like to come away with, and tailor the shoot accordingly. Particularly with a product-centric style like newborn and maternity photography, it is essential that every customer leaves with a beautiful section of prints to cherish for years to come.
For instance, if they wish to make an album, you know you can expect to have a fair number of shots to take, perhaps with other family members involved. If they would like a large print to display on the wall, you know there will need to be a hero shot that captures the essence of their child in that moment.
With wall art, it is important to understand where it will be displayed. Ask questions about how much light there is in the space at various times of the day and how large they would like the displayed photo. This will help the selection of a hero portrait that will be suitable for the location.
With this example, we selected a lovely plum shawl as it would match the existing décor in the space it would be displayed. As it is a darker colour, it would be suitable for a room with plenty of light. Portraits like this one would not work so well displayed on a darker staircase for example.
4 . Edit with printing in mind
For my work, I always say the most striking portraits are those where natural elements of the parents or baby at that moment are retained. I recommend only a light editing of newborn features, such as rashes. The clients will often prefer the most authentic portrait of their baby in this stage of life to remember them by, so your editing should reflect this.
There are steps that can be taken before the editing process as well. For instance, when shooting on my FUJIFILM X-T1, I use the ASTIA colour profile to ensure the portraits going to edit are perfect for printing. The profile brings out the soft skin of the subjects and the contrast achieved ensures the composition and focal point of the portrait is perfect for the end print.
5. Go to your Pro Lab and test the options
To fully understand the offerings available from your local Professional Lab, I recommend visiting your nearest Lab and beginning the conversation. They are experts and therefore having a tour of a Pro Lab and seeing the full capability that they have is a fantastic way to see what you could be doing with your own photography business.
They can give advice about which print media will suit your portraits and style, providing useful tips on printing you may not have considered. You can also try out different product options with a Pro Lab which allows you to explore photographic paper choices.
Ultimately, your printed products are the proof of your skill as a professional photographer, both to your existing and prospective clients. Also, these special prints need to last a lifetime, so choosing the best quality photographic paper will ensure these remain at their best for years.
To find the right quality for you, it takes trial and error, but once you have built a strong relationship with your Pro Lab, you can deliver a seamless service for your customers.
You can make a start on your testing now by signing up to FUJIFILM’s Print to Prove It campaign, which offers three free prints, you just have to pay postage and packing, have them printed on your choice of either lustre or gloss FUJIFILM professional photographic paper to test out your favourite photos.
To claim yours, visit: www.fujifilmprinttoproveit.com